30 in Thirty

On the eve of my thirtieth birthday, my thoughts wander and I reminisce.  Here’s my list of 30 things I’ve learned in my thirty years here on Earth.  And here’s praying God is gracious enough to bless me with another thirty!

1.  Put God first and the rest falls into place.

2.  Family doesn’t always mean blood relatives.

3.  There are very few things in life that can’t be fixed with chocolate.

4.  Marrying your best friend is, hands down, the best decision you’ll ever make.

5.  Learning to laugh at yourself is so much better than the alternative.

6.  Be real with people who love you.

7.  Guard your heart from all that is ugly in this world.

8.  Smile at passersby.

9.  A warm bath and a good book are pretty close to heaven.

10.  The sound of your baby’s laugh is even closer.

11.  Dancing around in the kitchen like a fool should be mandatory in the mornings.

12.  Coffee tastes so much better when shared with a friend.

13.  Distance will either wreck a weak relationship or strengthen a true one.

14.  Don’t ever hang up without saying “I love you.”

15.  Snuggle all the little people in your life as often as they’ll allow.  They grow up too quickly.

16.  God’s forgiveness in the sacrament of reconciliation is one of the most beautiful gifts we have here on earth.

17.  Our parents are real people with struggles and successes of their own.

18.  Proofreading is much more fun done on paper with a green pen.

19.  When you move to a new state, get your library card first, then worry about your driver’s license and all that other stuff later.

20.  Your siblings are the ones who will live your life with you – from beginning to end.  Be nice to them.

21.  Cultivate a spirit of thankfulness in your heart.

22.  Choose joy.

23.  Snow tickles your nose as it falls.

24.  Hearts do break, but the Lord heals us in His good time.

25.  Getting connected to a community of like-minded women is vital for your sanity.

26.  Record all the moments – both big and small.

27.  But know when to put the camera down and just live in the moment.

28.  Listen more and talk less.

29.  Love your family ferociously.

30.  Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future.

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Three Little Words

I’ve only been married 14 months now, so most of y’all would say that I have no business giving out marriage advice.  But please hear me out – this isn’t just advice for your marriage.  It’s advice for your life.  For your very soul, I might argue.  And plus, this advice really isn’t from me.  I’m just the messenger.  You see, I married this altogether amazing man.  He has taught me so much in the few short years I’ve known him, and I’m so happy to be sharing it with you.  So this posting is really courtesy of my oh-so-wise husband.

The little secret I’m going to let you in on is nothing revolutionary.  In fact, most of us learned it before we were able to read and write.  I’m talking about those few magic words that are a balm to the soul in any relationship.  It’s not “I love you” – although those are beautiful words to behold.  The three little words that keep our marriage strong are “thank you for…”  Earth-shattering, right?  Let me give you a few examples.

– Thank you for changing Stephen’s diaper.

– Thank you for making us a delicious dinner tonight.

– Thank you for running that load of laundry.

– Thank you for being amazing.

These thank yous are typical ones that you’ll hear exchanged in our house.  But like I said, I’m just the messenger.  When I first met my hubby, he began teaching me about true gratitude and seeking pleasure in the small things by thanking me for the seemingly mundane things I did for him.  I caught on pretty quickly, and before I knew it, “thank you for…” was my permanent mantra.

Thankfulness, especially when it comes to the small things, keeps everything in perspective.  It shows your loved ones that you care and that you appreciate them.  I think it works the same way with God.  Each time we thank Him for a beautiful sunset or the smile on our child’s face, He is pleased.  Does He get that same warm fuzzy feeling that we do, knowing that we appreciate His love?  I like to think so.  All of these acts of gratitude bring us a little closer to Christ, and that’s a place I am constantly striving to be.

This is why I joined Ann Voskamp in counting 1,000 gifts.  It is a way to commune with our Lord, to “give thanks in all things” – the good, the bad and the truly terrible.  It’s easy to give thanks when the road is easy, but relationships are built and fortified in the valleys.  If we can look past ourselves during times of struggle, anger and sadness – if we can say to God, “I don’t get this, I don’t particularly like it, but thank you, Lord.  I know that You work everything for the good of those that love you.  And I love you, God,” – then maybe, just maybe, our burdens will be lightened.  He will take our yoke and give us his own which is light.

I’m so thankful that my husband has taught me to give thanks, to be a little more like Jesus.  I pray that we never stop showing gratitude to each other or to our Lord.  Everything we have, what we do and who we are is a gift from above – our thanks are our gift back to Him.